April 19, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

California vaccine legislation spurs legal debate over right to education — California’s Constitution spells out the right to a free public education, and lawmakers have fortified that guarantee over the years by safeguarding students against discrimination and inequality in the classroom. But now a debate over that protected access to an education has surfaced in the most contentious legislative battle in Sacramento this year: Does one student’s right to an education trump another student’s right to stay healthy?  San Jose Mercury News article

For California governors, the roller-coaster ride is routine – The men in the chairs at the Town Hall Los Angeles gathering had the luxury of critiquing Brown, and both suggested he was doing what he had to do and doing it well, though from that point they veered apart: Democrat Davis to the need for water recycling; Republican Wilson to the need for more storage. But in the gentle treatment they gave Brown, they also seemed to be a little relieved that they weren’t stuck with the latest California crisis.  LA Times article

Gov. Brown

Sacramento Bee: Brown shouldn’t leave eco goals out of new Delta plan — As Gov. Jerry Brown tries to salvage the $25 billion project to build twin tunnels through the Delta, he should keep in mind that it won’t be acceptable to give up its environmental goals.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Valley politics

Pennino returns from Hollywood to be legislative aide — After more than two years in Los Angeles working five seasons on a hit reality show, Lodi resident Summer Pennino was ready to come back to her roots and take on a position with which she’s more comfortable. At its last meeting, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Pennino’s appointment as legislative assistant for the first supervisorial district, something she’s ready to take head on. Stockton Record article

Other areas

Marcos Breton: Shouts of vaccine opponents drown out rational arguments – It’s a shouting match dominated with bullies who make threats, scream about personal beliefs and fill your voice mail with angry phone calls. Richard Pan – the Sacramento state senator and doctor – is getting a steady dose of such vitriol amid the hottest political fight in California. He strikes a solitary figure in sensible glasses as he gets pummeled every day in the public square.  Breton column in Sacramento Bee

2016 election pits desire for change against a demographic shift – The 2016 election will test whether the Obama coalition of minorities and white liberals can hold together, turn out and defeat the aging but still powerful coalition of social and economic conservatives and foreign policy hawks assembled by Ronald Reagan 35 years ago.  LA Times article

Supreme Court’s big gay-marriage case could rock 2016 presidential race – The upcoming Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage could shake up the 2016 race for the White House.  San Francisco Chronicle article

100 years later, Armenian genocide still not universally accepted — In the swank shops and tidy cafés that line the new pedestrian zone in Armenia’s capital, there’s barely a hint that nearly everyone here is the descendent of a generation that escaped with their lives in a harrowing flight from Ottoman Turkey in the midst of World War I.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Victor Davis Hanson: Ethnic constructs are pointless in our multiracial society — America is a multiracial society due to immigration, intermarriage and assimilation. Perhaps it is time to cut out the bumper sticker self-labeling and instead accept that in our ethnically mixed-up nation, race has become an incidental construct rather than essential to our careers and personas. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

New draft rules could impose cuts of up to 36 percent for some in Bakersfield – Bakersfield residents will be expected to cut their water usage by 32 percent to 36 percent, depending on where they get their water, if proposed regulations are approved by the California Water Resources Control Board early next month. Regardless of the new, higher reduction number, Bakersfield Water Resources Manager Art Chianello said he would not recommend more stringent measures above the three-day-a-week proposed outdoor watering restrictions set to go before the City Council on Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

State sets Fresno target for water cuts at 28 percent — At the high end of the cutback scale are 36%ers Bakman Water Co. (which serves part of southeast Fresno), Clovis, Corcoran, Exeter, Kerman, Kingsburg, Madera County and Merced city. For Clovis, the mandate is a percentage point higher than what was expected when Brown announced earlier this month that the cutbacks were coming. Visalia and Hanford, two cities that were expecting 35%, instead are being asked to do 32%.  AP/Fresno Bee article

Water managers announce mandatory cuts — Dead lawns and dirty cars may be the future for California under mandatory water reductions of up to 36 percent rolled out Saturday by state water officials. The unprecedented regulation, which comes despite concern that the state is overreaching, builds on an earlier proposal that compels heavy water users to make the biggest sacrifices as California faces a fourth year of drought.  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article; AP article; Capital Public Radio report; San Jose Mercury News article;KQED report

Jobs and the Economy

Dan Walters: Income gap widest in nation’s blue cities — Income disparity – the divide between those at the top of the economic ladder and those stuck on lower rungs – is the era’s most explosive political issue. It has, however, a very ironic twist. As a recent report from the Brookings Institution reveals, income disparities are widest in the nation’s bluest – most liberal – cities and much narrower elsewhere. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento’s economy rebounds, but many workers struggle – Sacramento’s economic recovery, slow to emerge, is in full bloom. Unemployment is down, and job growth is catching up to the rest of California.  Still, thousands of Sacramentans struggle. They can’t find work, or have made do with part-time jobs or work that doesn’t pay as well as their old jobs. For every job opening in electrical engineering, there are 10 times as many jobs available for cashiers.  Sacramento Bee article

Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger may hinge on Internet service expansion — Comcast Corp.’s bid to win state approval to purchase Time Warner Cable could hinge on whether the company becomes a generous corporate citizen. California officials — who are considering whether to approve the merger of the nation’s two largest cable companies — have been prodding Comcast to use its vast resources to help expand Internet access and provide phone service for disabled residents.  LA Times article

Use a ride-share service? It’s supposed to get safer — As rideshare smartphone apps explode in popularity, including in Bakersfield, the industry is encountering new regulation and scrutiny to address mounting safety concerns.  Bakersfield Californian article; ‘An Uber driver tells his story’ in Bakersfield Californian

Asparagus Festival: New look, location make second-day visitors smile — If large crowds, heavy traffic and happy families are any indication, the second day of the newly branded San Joaquin Asparagus Festival was an overwhelming success. Stockton Record article


Clovis will start fining residents for excess water use because of new state rules — The city plans to institute fines based on water meter readings taken for bills, which are issued every two months. The city is calculating bills so each water customer will know the amount of water they can use before being fined, said Lisa Koehn, assistant public utilities director. The fines will be $25 for a first offense and $50 thereafter.  Fresno Bee article

Most Sacramento communities get even bigger water cuts under revised mandates – The revised conservation mandates unveiled by state water regulators Saturday would require most Sacramento-area communities to make even bigger cuts in water use than originally proposed, disappointing area leaders who argue the state should take into account the region’s hot weather and large lot sizes.  Sacramento Bee article

Modesto to help homeowners audit their water use – As Modesto faces further reductions in how much water it uses, the city wants to help residents learn how they can do their part. It is starting a pilot program in which the city’s water conservation specialist will conduct water audits for the tens of thousands of single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes that use city water. It’s a voluntary program, and residents will have to request an audit.  Modesto Bee article

Oakdale Irrigation District to tackle water cap, transfer and drought surcharge – Irrigation leaders are expected Tuesday to put a historic cap on farmers’ water, cancel previous plans to sell water to out-of-county buyers, endorse water transfers among local growers, initiate a drought surcharge and welcome a new member to their board.  Modesto Bee article

Kirk Uhler: Unequal water cutbacks not simple, not fair – The chair of the Placer County Board of Supervisors writes, “Establishing different goals is confusing and unfair, particularly with fines potentially coming for those who don’t make these mandated cuts. A better and simpler plan is to once again ask all Californians, as was done in 2014, to be part of the solution – and to apply an equal reduction throughout the state.”  Uhler op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Water usage rises at Kern High School District — The Kern High School District’s water usage rose at almost every school and service site in it from 2012-13 to 2013-14, according to district data released Friday. It increased from 628.6 million gallons to 676.1 million gallons, or 7.6 percent.  Bakersfield Californian article

Almonds get roasted in debate over California water use – As California enters its fourth year of drought and imposes the first mandatory statewide water cutbacks on cities and towns, the $6.5 billion almond crop is helping drive a sharp debate about water use, agricultural interests and how both affect the state’s giant economy.  AP article

Hanford to begin water rate talks — Facing a growing number of water conservation rules from Sacramento and other factors, the Hanford City Council will begin discussing a possible water rate hike on Tuesday.  Hanford Sentinel article

Loans help with water-saving projects in Modesto and beyond — Ryan and Martha Cheney’s backyard turf will stay green no matter how much Modesto restricts water use. They installed artificial grass through a loan program for water and energy conservation projects, known as HERO.  Modesto Bee article

You could switch to artificial grass, except … — If you want to see an example in Hanford, you’re not going to find any fake lawns – at least, any that are legal. Hanford’s zoning ordinance specifically requires “live plant materials,” so artificial turf is ruled out. City leaders are in the process of redrawing the ordinance to make it clear that artificial turf, and drought-tolerant plant landscaping, will be allowed as an option.  Hanford Sentinel article

Jack Hamm: Farm water use provides for us all – The president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau writes, “It doesn’t matter what you have tonight when you sit down for dinner, or even the beverages you wash it down with, this meal took the farmers, farm workers, truckers, processors, warehouse workers, and a ton of specialty businesses to ensure that your food made it to your table safely, and NONE of this is possible without the water to grow the food in this state.” Hamm column in Stockton Record

Joyce Terhaar: Media coverage must make a difference in California drought — In times of crisis, journalism can – and should – make a difference. California’s drought and the response by media all over the world should be the latest example.  Terhaar column in Sacramento Bee

Michael Fitzgerald: From hard times to good in 100 years — In April of 1915, 100 hundred years ago this month, the Briggs family of Michigan moved to Farmington. They bought a dryland farm on the Escalon-Bellota Road. They’re still there. Only nobody farms any more.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Keith Foster’s criminal case roils Fresno city government – Fresno officials are busy trying to turn the police auditor’s ideas for improving the Fresno Police Department into deeds. But just about everything else at City Hall connected to the arrest of former Deputy Chief Keith Foster on federal drug-trafficking charges is turning into political theater.  Fresno Bee article

LA County Sheriff’s Department restricts deputies’ use of in-car devices — A little more than a year after a sheriff’s deputy who was typing on his computer missed a curve and fatally struck a bicyclist, the department has tightened its rules on the use of in-car computers.  LA Times article


Inside the Academy: Meet four recruits — Later this year, they’ll likely graduate from the Bakersfield Police Department’s current academy and join the agency as probationary officers. But for now, the academy members whose career paths The Californian is following are just four faces among 35 in the academy — working hard to learn new skills during the day, then doing homework and equipment preparation, sometimes until nearly midnight.  Bakersfield Californian article; ‘Ethics lesson memorable to new class of police’ in Bakersfield Californian

Police unions, facing public anger, rethink how to address shootings – Amid a rising tide of anger and resentment directed at the police and, perhaps more important, vivid video documentation debunking or calling into question the accounts of officers, police union officials around the country are rethinking how best to get their message out.  New York Times article

Elizabeth Calvin: Reform laws that send too many youths to adult prisons – The California-based senior children’s rights advocate at Human Rights Watch writes, “California’s new laws recognize that juveniles are different from adults. We know that a 16-year-old has tremendous capacity to grow and change, and not be defined by his or her worst act.  But these laws are back-door fixes to a front-door problem. The real problem is the flow of young people into adult prison for life and near-life sentences.” Calvin op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Lawmakers ready to revamp teacher evaluations — With teacher employment rules high on the public agenda, a flurry of new bills has been introduced to the Legislature that would change how California educators are hired, fired and evaluated — even as a landmark legal dispute on the matter hangs in the balance.  U-T San Diego article

Fresno Bee: Update high school exit exam – don’t scrap it — A long hiatus and a vague mandate from the Legislature would leave students and teachers in limbo and give longtime opponents of the exit exam a chance to study and talk it to death. That is the last thing California’s public schools need.  Fresno Bee editorial

Many Sacramento-area school districts exceed state average for truancy — Sacramento County school districts in Natomas and Galt posted among the highest truancy rates in the region in the 2013-14 school year, new data from the California Department of Education show.  Sacramento Bee article


Michael Hiltzik: Fines may not be enough to punish PG&E for its misdeeds – Isn’t it time to put Pacific Gas & Electric out of business? California’s largest utility company, PG&E Corp. long has been one of the state’s most troublesome corporate citizens. The September 2010 natural gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif., in which the company bears responsibility for the deaths of eight people and the leveling of an entire neighborhood, is only its most spectacular misdeed.  Hiltzik column in LA Times

Advocates seek to kill deal that sticks ratepayers with San Onofre costs — Consumer advocates, outraged by a secret negotiation in Poland over the $5-billion cost of closing the San Onofre nuclear power plant, are asking the California Public Utilities Commission to reconsider a deal that sticks utility customers with the bulk of the bill.  LA Times article

Tiny plastics likely polluting Sacramento River, UC Davis researcher says — A UC Davis researcher is studying whether tiny bits of plastic used in face washes, toothpaste and other consumer products are accumulating in Sacramento-area rivers and flowing out to the Pacific Ocean.  Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

Markos Kounalakis: Fear of doctors, vaccines in California and around the world – Recent international reactions against doctors and vaccines represent a disturbing trend that can not only lead to an immediate threat to global health workers but also precipitate that all-feared outbreak of an uncontrollable epidemic.  Kounalakis column in Sacramento Bee

A veil of secrecy shields hospitals where outbreaks occur – Keeping outbreaks confidential is a common practice of federal, state and local health investigators across the country. The rationale: It encourages hospitals to be open and quickly report suspected surges of infections.  LA Times article

Family Justice Center in Modesto to expand services — A program that has provided programming for abused and at-risk youth in Stanislaus County for 13 years has dissolved, but in a final act of charity gifted its facility to another nonprofit that serves the same population. The Family Justice Center has been handed the keys to Cricket’s House at 133 Downey Ave. to expand the center’s programs for children.  Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Gas line was marked before tractor nicked it, igniting fireball near Highway 99 – A natural gas line was clearly marked when a heavy equipment operator apparently nicked the line, sparking an explosion and fireball Friday near Highway 99 that injured 13 people, officials with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Fresno County said Saturday.  Fresno Bee article

Some victims of California explosion released from hospital – Pacific Gas & Electric Co. investigators were at the scene Saturday of a natural gas pipeline blast at a sheriff’s gun range, as four of the 11 people injured in the explosion were released from the hospital.  AP article

Do elephants belong at fair? Board to decide – You can’t accuse Ned Dunphy of not going the extra mile — 370 of them to be exact. When the new Kern County Fair Board director casts his vote Monday on whether to allow an elephant ride to return to the fair in September, he will have put in hours of homework to satisfy his conscience that the decision is an informed one. Bakersfield Californian article

Thousands lend a hand to celebrate the Earth and Love Modesto – Volunteers of all ages cleared, cleaned, toted and scrubbed, enjoying the sweat-on-the-brow satisfaction of a good deed done. Saturday’s Love Modesto event drew an estimated 4,000 helpers, pitching in on 90-plus projects, organizer Jeff Pishney said.  Modesto Bee article

Love Merced tops its record for volunteers – More people than ever turned out in Merced on Saturday for the citywide day of service that is Love Merced. Organizers estimated 1,400 people took part in the cleanup, painting, yardwork and other projects in city parks, streets and neighborhoods.  Merced Sun-Star article

Armenian genocide significance resonates through three generations of Fresno family — Though he narrowly missed it, Sarkis Sahatdjian considers himself an Armenian genocide survivor. “The average American doesn’t see what I see because they haven’t been through what I’ve seen: The aftermath,” he said. Fresno Bee article

Mark Arax: California: Cradle of ‘new Armenia’ – The Fresno author writes, “I used to hear the stories in my grandmother’s kitchen over bowls of her string bean and lamb stew. I used to hear the stories at our red brick Armenian church in Fresno when the men, who left the worshiping to the women, gathered under the big pine tree to smoke their Sir Walter Raleighs.”  Arax op-ed in Fresno Bee

Armen Bacon: An inheritance of humanity — So here we are, 100 years later. Struggling in my own mind how best to pay tribute, still seeking forgiveness for my heartless and insensitive gestures, I scribble my own hardships and stories with promise to pass them down to my children and grandchildren. We heal our wounds by preserving the past, living fully in the present, and leaving an inheritance of humanity for those who follow.  Bacon column in Fresno Bee

Jeff Jardine: Halted internment auction reminds us Japanese Americans were mistreated in Valley, too — This week, a New Jersey auctioneer – under fire from the Japanese American Citizens League and others – aborted plans to sell hundreds of artifacts that came from the internment camps. The controversy resonated here in the Valley, as well. Why? Because thousands of Japanese Americans who lived here were forced to go to the camps. Many farmed in Turlock, Livingston, Delhi, Atwater, Merced and Stockton. Anti-Japanese sentiment existed well before Pearl Harbor, though.  Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – A long hiatus and a vague mandate from the Legislature would leave students and teachers in limbo and give longtime opponents of the exit exam a chance to study and talk it to death. That is the last thing California’s public schools need.

Sacramento Bee – A long hiatus and a vague mandate from the Legislature would leave students and teachers in limbo and give longtime opponents of the exit exam a chance to study and talk it to death. That is the last thing California’s public schools need; As Gov. Jerry Brown tries to salvage the $25 billion project to build twin tunnels through the Delta, he should keep in mind that it won’t be acceptable to give up its environmental goals.